Princeton and Harvard to meet on gridiron for Ivy League marquee matchup| Oct 23, 2014
After two consecutive years of dramatic finishes and Roman Wilson ’14 touchdown catches, last year’s Ivy co-champions will go head-to-head this weekend, with the winner remaining in control of his own fate in pursuit of this year’s title. Coming off a 27-16 home victory over Brown, the Tigers (3-2, 2-0 Ivy) look to remain undefeated in the Ivy League when they host Harvard on Saturday for homecoming weekend.
The Tigers played last weekend against Brown without starting senior quarterback Quinn Epperly or junior running back DiAndre Atwater. Atwater leads the team in rushing yards this season with 359 yards in four games, while Epperly has rushed for eight touchdowns and thrown for 800 yards and three touchdowns in his four games. While Epperly is likely to play on Saturday, Atwater is still questionable. Starting in his place would most likely be senior running back Will Powers, who is second only to Epperly in rushing touchdowns scored, with four this season.
The 2012 Princeton-Harvard game ended in a Roman Wilson catch that made SportsCenter’s Top 10, and the 2013 game only ended after three overtimes, 99 points and 970 yards of total offense. So, what will it take to win this year?
The Tigers have started strong the past few weeks against Colgate University and Brown, but the ability to maintain that concentration and momentum will be crucial if they hope to win this matchup against Harvard. While the effort was there in Princeton’s win over Brown last weekend, mental errors and missed execution contributed to a slowdown in offensive production as the game progressed into the third and fourth quarters, something the Tigers cannot afford against a Crimson offense that averages 29.0 points per game while its defense holds opponents to 11.2 points per game. Meanwhile, the Princeton offense has averaged 36.0 points per game this season, but its defense has given up 21.8 points per game.
“We’ve talked about starting fast, and we’ve started fast the last two weeks, [but] it’s not always going to happen,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said. “These other teams are really good teams … and we just have to get that mindset of: ‘let’s come out, let’s take advantage.’ ”
After an extremely physical game against Brown, the Tigers will look to their defense to anchor them and be a source of stability. Princeton’s run defense currently leads the Football Championship Subdivision, allowing only 61.0 rushing yards per game, while Harvard’s run defense ranks fifth nationally, allowing 83.2 yards per game.
If the past two years are any indication, this Saturday will almost definitely include a number of big plays and a lot of physical hits.
“You got to finish,” Surace added.
The Tigers look to continue their streak of Ivy League wins on Saturday when they host Harvard at 1 p.m. at Princeton Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN3.